A sit on top kayak is the best option for new kayaks. They offer great stability and durability while you get more acquainted with how to paddle a kayak and how to get back in if you happen to capsize.
Another good thing about sit on top kayaks is that they tend to be very reasonably priced. While you can find more expensive models with a bunch of bells and whistles, keeping it simple is sometimes best if youíre a beginner.
In the kayaking world, the debate between sit on top versus sit inside kayaks is ongoing. But each type of kayak has a specific use and demographic that will be better served by that type.
Sit on top kayaks are safe and easy for beginners and kids to build comfort on the water. Weíve researched inexpensive kayaks to bring you the best sit on top kayak under $300!
Weíve also included several other affordable options to consider and we’ll help you decide which kayak is right for you in our Sit On Top Kayak Buying Guide!
Before we get into our Sit On Top Kayak Reviews, itís time to learn a little kayaking jargon. For a full briefing on important kayaking terms, check out our Beginnerís Guide to Kayak Terminology.
The hull is the bottom of your kayak. Its design is vital to how well the kayak tracks and maneuvers on the water, as well as how much top-end speed it is capable of achieving.
The deck is the top side of your kayak. Sit-inside kayaks are also sometimes called ďclosed deckĒ boats because they donít have the open deck that provides comfort and flexibility with a sit on top kayak.
Bow and Stern
The bow is the front of your kayak and the stern is the back. To remember this, consider that you have to lean FORWARD in order to bow and that a stern face might be one someone gives you when you want to take something BACK something youíve said or done.
Gunwales are simply the fancy term for the sides of your kayak. This is where many sit on top kayak designers will include handles to make it easier to carry and transport your kayak.
Deciding on a sit on top kayak under $300 isnít a super complex task. Nevertheless, letís discuss how to prioritize different features and specifications of these kayaks so that you can further narrow down your options and select the best kayak for your needs.
Inflatable Versus Rotomolded
It wasnít too long ago that inflatable kayaks really couldnít be trusted. But improvements in technology now allow inflatable kayaks to hold higher pressures without danger of bursting or tearing.
This means the battle between inflatable versus rotomolded kayaks is potentially more hotly contested than ever. Rotomolded kayaks are those designed with a hard plastic material, such as polyethylene.
Because they require a more extensive manufacturing process in many cases, rotomolded kayaks tend to be more expensive than their inflatable counterparts. This is one of the reasons why you wonít see many of them in our Sit On Top Kayak Reviews below.
Rotomolded kayaks also require more storage space at your house, and they should always be stored in a covered area to minimize exposure to the elements. They also tend to be heavier and more of a hassle to transport than inflatable kayaks.
If youíre starting to catch our drift here, inflatable sit on top kayaks are a great option if your budget is under $300. They are reliable, easy-to-use, and much easier to store and transport.
Length and Width
The perfect kayak dimensions for you really depend on how you intend to use it. Obviously youíll need a longer kayak if youíre a taller individual or a couple that always likes to paddle together (and thatís why our Reviews include a few tandem kayaks!).
But a shorter kayak can be much better for smaller paddlers, including kids. Generally speaking, shorter kayaks are also easier to maneuver and tend to be more stable than longer models.
When youíre looking for kayaks under $300, many of them will come with a handful of useful accessories. This is important to pay attention to because the true cost of kayaking should account for the costs of a paddle, PFD, seats, and anything else youíll need to be 100% prepared.
Thankfully, many of the sit on top kayaks at this price point come with most (if not all) of the accessories youíll need to get started.
Although a quality kayaking PFD is something youíll typically need to purchase separately, doing so is highly recommended for safety, especially for beginner kayakers.
That being said, make sure you pay attention to all of the accessories youíll be getting when you purchase a new sit on top kayak. Factoring that in will allow you to make more accurate price comparisons across brands and models.
For example, a more affordable kayak that doesnít come with any accessories may actually wind up costing you more in the long run than a slightly more expensive kayak that comes with everything you need.
Most of the kayaks at this price point are meant for recreational paddling. That typically means trips lasting a maximum of two to three hours on the water.
Still, trips of that length require proper planning and preparation. Any experienced kayaker will tell you that they have a list of ďmust-haveĒ gear that always goes on their kayak with them, regardless of the length of paddle they have planned.
At a minimum, you should have enough water to stay thoroughly hydrated while youíre on the water. Other examples of smart items to bring with you include sunscreen, snacks, and some sort of kayak repair kit.
As you gain experience and your paddle trips start to get longer, however, youíre going to need additional space for extra dry bags, fishing gear, and more. This is where the storage capacity of your kayak will start to become a factor.
When comparing kayaks, be honest with yourself (and your paddle partner) about your long-term paddling goals. You donít have to have an exact 10-year plan, but you should have a general idea of the type of paddling youíre going to do.
If youíre interested in kayak fishing, youíll need a sit on top kayak with more storage capacity than if you simply plan on going out for an hour or two here or there. Similarly, youíll need more onboard storage capacity if you think youíll one day be planning half-day or full-day kayaking explorations.
The last quick advice weíll offer has to do with price. Only you know your budget and what youíre willing to spend on a kayak, so we donít try to persuade you into breaking the bank.
That being said, kayak quality does tend to increase as price increases. As you sort through some of the most affordable sit on top kayaks on the market today, itís always a good idea to pay attention to customer reviews so you can learn more before settling on a final purchase decision.
Sit On Top Kayak Reviews
The Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe is a great inflatable kayak thatís suitable for two paddlers. That being said, both of the inflatable seats in this kayak are removable, which allows you to set it up for a single paddler if your partner isnít always feeling up to it.
The hull of this kayak includes two skegs that help to improve tracking and allow you to cover longer distances in shorter periods of time. The floor of the kayak also has a one-way drain valve that makes it easier to remove any water that gets inside.
In the bow and stern areas of this kayak, the manufacturer has included lashed down spray skirts to create storage areas. These areas allow you to keep extra gear protected from splashes or rainfall while youíre out.
The 330 Deluxe kayak boasts a hefty 500-pound weight capacity while only weighing a minuscule 26 pounds itself. The kayak measures 11 feet, two inches long and 34 inches wide.
The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is an inflatable sit on top kayak that can be set up in as little as five minutes. This is great because you wonít have to spend a bunch of time waiting for it to inflate when youíd rather be on the water.
A medium-sized cargo area at the stern of the kayak allows you to bring extra gear along on longer paddles. And that storage area is covered with mesh netting for added security.
The hull and deck of this kayak are made with 21-gauge PVC construction thatís rated for lake use. The tarpaulin bottom of the kayak helps to improve its overall resistance against punctures and tears if you bump into rocks or sticks on the shore.
The Quikpak K1 (and its included accessories) comes in an easy-to-carry backpack that actually converts into the seat when youíre ready to paddle.
Furthermore, this kayak contains multiple air chambers that help you stay afloat if one chamber does happen to become compromised in any way.
The Sevylor Quikpak K5 inflatable kayak offers a slight upgrade on the Quikpak K1. It is manufactured with 24-gauge PVC, which makes it more durable and rigid than the K1.
Itís also wrapped in a durable polyester cover that has a tarpaulin bottom. This cover protects the body of the kayak from UV exposure and also makes it more resistant to damage if you happen to run into a rack or stick while on the water.
The setup process for this kayak requires less than five minutes and the entire kayak deflates into an easy-to-carry backpack when youíre done. This makes it super easy to travel with and very compact to store at home.
The Quikpak K5 measures eight feet, six inches long and 33.5 inches wide. The entire kayak weighs a total of just 25.5 pounds and it comes with a collapsible paddle and high-pressure pump for quicker inflation.
The Intex Excursion Pro is an even tougher inflatable sit on top kayak thatís actually made for fishing applications. If you live to travel and explore new fishing grounds, this kayak is a great option for you.
It comes with a double-action pump, two paddles, two removable and adjustable skegs for better tracking, two floor-mounted footrests, two recessed fishing rod holders, and two adjustable bucket seats.
Just like the Challenger K2, the seats in this kayak can be adjusted or removed entirely. This allows you to set it up for just a single paddler, which actually gives you a ton of room for fishing gear or other supplies.
The Excursion Pro inflates to a higher pressure than many other inflatable sit on top kayaks. This higher pressure makes the kayak more stable and offers better performance over distance.
This is another inflatable sit on top kayak that represents a great selection for anyone that loves to travel or doesnít have a whole lot of extra storage space at home.
The RAVE Sports Sea Rebel is made of rugged PVC thatís covered with durable fabric to provide extra puncture and abrasion resistance. That fabric cover also reduces the impacts of prolonged UV exposure if you happen to leave your kayak out in direct sunlight a little too long.
Itís also a lightweight kayak that weighs only 22 pounds when fully inflated. It comes with a high-pressure hand pump that makes it easy to inflate in a matter of minutes, but you might consider grabbing a small electric pump to speed up the process even further.
The Sea Rebel measures eight feet and six inches in length, with a width of 35 inches across. Itís best suited for smaller paddlers though, as it boasts a maximum weight capacity of 200 pounds.
The Advanced Elements Firefly is another inflatable sit on top kayak with compact dimensions. The size of this kayak makes it a feasible option for kids and smaller paddlers alike.
Unlike many inflatable kayaks, this model has built-in ridge panels in the bow and stern of the boat. These panels give the entire design more rigidity and function to improve the kayakís overall tracking ability.
In other words, the bow of your kayak wonít be swinging drastically from side-to-side with every one of your paddle strokes. The outer cover on the entire kayak helps to protect it against scratches or punctures from rocks or sticks you might encounter.
The Firefly is a shorter kayak with a length of 7.875 feet and a width of 34.65 inches. This length-to-width ratio makes it very stable on the water and it also only weighs 16 pounds when you need to transport it.
The RAVE Sports Molokai is an inflatable sit on top kayak designed for two paddlers. The entire kayak, as well as the seats, paddles, and other accessories, packs up into a compact carry bag for storage or transportation.
The compact storage ability makes this an excellent kayak for international travelers and domestic RVers alike. Youíll be able to check this kayak on a plane or store it under your RV until you reach your next paddle destination.
The kayak is made of rugged PVC material thatís reinforced on the bottom for added puncture and tear-resistance. The entire PVC construction of the kayak is also covered with a durable fabric to reduce damage from prolonged UV exposure.
The Molokai tandem kayak measures 11 feet, 4 inches long and 38 inches wide, which makes it one of the wider sit on top kayaks on our list. It also weighs just 31 pounds when fully inflated, so itís really easy to move around when youíre not in the water yet.
Another great model from Intex, the Explorer K2 represents somewhat of a medium ground between the high-performing Excursion Pro and the budget-friendly Challenger K2.
This is an inflatable sit on top kayak that can be set up for one or two paddlers. It offers covered storage areas in the bow and stern of the kayak for extra gear on longer paddles.
On the bottom, this kayak comes with a removable skeg that helps to improve tracking and directional stability. If you happen to be paddling in really shallow waters, however, the skeg can easily be removed so you donít run aground.
The Intex Explorer K2 measures 10 feet, three inches long and 36 inches wide. It has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds, which might even give you enough capacity to add a third small paddler or a furry companion.
The Sevylor Tahiti Fishing Kayak will is a great option for the on-the-go kayak fishing couple. But the seats in this kayak are fully removable, which means it can be set up for a single paddler as well.
With a maximum weight capacity of 360 pounds, this kayak is more than capable of holding two full-sized adults (and maybe even one smaller paddler). It also has plenty of weight capacity for a single paddler and all of your fishing supplies.
The body of this inflatable kayak is made with 21-gauge PVC material. Each of the kayakís multiple air chambers is outfitted with a double-lock valve that makes inflation easier and prevents slow leaks while youíre on the water.
The Tahiti Fishing Kayak measures 10 feet, four inches long and 37 inches wide. It also includes carrying handles at the bow and stern that make it easier for two people to portage this kayak over land.
The Outdoor Tuff Stinger is another inflatable sit on top kayak that maintains a very high pressure so that it stays rigid. You wonít have to worry about feeling like this kayak is collapsing around you.
It has covered storage areas in the bow and stern sections of the kayak. This gives you ample room to store gear and keep it dry as you begin to explore spending longer hours on the water.
This kayak uses a foot pump (which comes with it) to inflate super quickly. The seat itself is inflatable so you can enjoy plenty of cushion and you can also customize your comfort level by adding more (or less) air.
The Outdoor Tuff Stinger kayak measures nine feet, one inch long and 30.25 inches wide. It also comes with an 87-inch lightweight paddle and two removable fins that allow you to enjoy better tracking ability on the water.
Our Pick – Sevylor Quikpak K1
We recognize that different situations call for different kayaks. But, for our money, our top pick for the best sit on top kayak under $300 is the Sevylor Quikpak K1.
For starters, itís usable for both adults and kids. The length isnít too much for kids to handle and will still perform well enough on flatwater for adults to get their fill of paddling.
Itís extremely easy to store and transport. So itís a great option for all travelers and you wonít have to learn how to build a covered kayak storage shed in your backyard to keep it safe from the elements.
Because the entire kayak, paddle, and its accessories can all be stored in an easy-to-carry backpack, this kayak is also a great option for exploring lakes and waterways that you otherwise wouldnít be able to access.
Imagine hiking this compact kayak into a pristine alpine lake and having it all to yourself. Thatís one of the biggest reasons why the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is our pick for the best sit on top kayak under $300!